Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

High-flying Stellies are in town to test misfiring Chiefs

'A big, big game awaits us,” said Stellenbosch head coach Steve Barker.

While Kaizer Chiefs were labouring to a dull goalless draw with Cape Town City on Saturday, Stellenbosch were busy pummeling Royal AM 3-0 to jump to second place in the DStv Premiership.

Steve Barker’s side travel to Johannesburg to take on Amakhosi on Tuesday, with the Western Cape side currently on a run of 18 games unbeaten in all competitions, since losing at Mamelodi Sundowns on September 27.

When Bafana striker Iqraam Rayners put Stellies up 3-0 in the 56th minute on Saturday, Barker was able to switch his attention to the Chiefs game, taking off the likes of Rayners, Andre De Jong and Devin Titus, to give them a rest ahead of Tuesday’s match.

“Tuesday is close and fortunately the game allowed us to have the luxury of making substitutions to keep everyone ready and fresh because obviously a big, big game awaits us,” said Barker, according to Stellenbosch’s official website.

The 23 year-old Titus has been in sparkling form for Stellies, with five goals in his last eight matches in all competitions, while Rayners has also been on song, and must have been boosted by an encouraging display for Bafana against Algeria during the international break.

Chiefs will have their work cut out keeping Stellies’ attack at bay, though defending is the least of their problems at the moment. Amakhosi have kept eight clean sheets in their last ten matches, but at the other end of the pitch they have mostly been completely ineffective.

Another Chiefs blank

Amakhosi have scored just seven times in that same amount of time, and drew another blank on Saturday against City, with Cavin Johnson not really fooling anyone with his claims that Chiefs deserved to win the game at Athlone Stadium.

Amakhosi had a few opportunities to score, but so did City, and Chiefs mostly just provided further illustration of why they are set for a ninth consecutive season without any PSL silverware.

One bright spot for Chiefs was the performance of Siyethemba Sithebe, even if he was also the main culprit in front of goal. Sithebe played well in only his second start of the season, and with Yusuf Maart and Edson Castillo still out suspended, he is set to feature again today.

“I hope he stays like this for the next 10 games,” Johnson told reporters after the City game.

“I always said this, I will try to give everybody an opportunity while I’m here. And if they play and do well, it shows you why the club bought them.”

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